Lunetta: The piano man and the president


Over the last three months, I have been enjoying my latest mid-life crisis by trying to learn how to play the piano. My son and I took a class through the city’s Parks and Recreation system and had an immense amount of fun.

Unpaid advertisement: our city does a great job offering classes for everything from swimming to knitting to computers. It’s an inexpensive way to learn something new! Keep your eyes open for the “Seasons” catalog that comes in the mail. It’s your gateway to new worlds. Ad over.

I’ve always wanted to play the piano. It’s in my blood.

My grandma used to play piano at the silent movie theaters back in the day before there was a sound track. She would watch the movie and increase the tempo when something exciting was happening, and make it romantic during the love scenes. Whatever was needed. She was very good.

My grandpa was the guy who walked into a room, sat down at the piano and, in 10 minutes, had everyone singing or listening to ragtime. The joint was jumpin’ whenever Jim Bennie was in the room.

My nephew got a degree in music and can play any musical instrument. When he was 12 years old, people at church requested that he play hymns that he had never seen before. No problem.

Mom was an excellent musician but she never taught me. I always assumed that I got hit with the musical stupid stick. I never learned to read music, never played an instrument, and never opened my musical eyes. Until now.

I can play three chords and a really bad rendition of the “Entertainer” that my wife has to listen to night after night. But I am practicing and slowly getting better.

I also read simple music and know the difference between a sharp and a flat. I now know what a quarter or half note is and what a rest looks like. I can plink, plink, plink and make it sound somewhat like real music. Somewhat.

In a very simplistic way, it’s very much like trying to learn the job of being the most powerful person on Earth, the president of the United States.

There is absolutely no job that helps prepare you for that. Sure, you can be governor of a large state, but that in no way compares to the massive step up to the White House. You just have to sit down at the keyboard and learn.

Plink, plink, plink.

Does anyone show you the right things to do and say? When any wrong move can result in a finger slipping off and hitting a “C” when it should have been an “D-flat”? Not really. For many presidents, those first few months are very tough.

What about having a music teacher who stands behind you and screams every time you hit a clinker or miss-read that pesky “A” note? Much like an aggressive press corps that seeks the negative because it plays well to the masses.

Plink, plink, plink.

Maybe you have some bad habits that need to be corrected? I know that I like to watch a baseball game while I practice, but that makes it very difficult to focus on the music. Much like a bad tweeting habit, I need to turn off the distractions and focus on the job at hand.

I am used to things being a certain way. At work, I am the manager and things happen because that is what I want. On a piano, just because I want it to sound a certain way does not mean that it does. I need to learn a new way, develop a new talent, and get my fingers in the right place. My old paradigms are not as effective here.

Plink, plink, plink.

But, I am getting better. I don’t write the notes on the staffs anymore. I can recognize a note by its position on the page.

A president will recognize who is the right fit for a job and get that person doing it. Sometimes, you cannot tell if that person who interviewed so well in your office will be a total train wreck later. It takes time to figure that out and get the hiring right.

Plink, plink, plink.

Much to my wife’s chagrin, I will keep practicing and learning how to tap these keys correctly. With patience, I will make beautiful music and the president will find his melody.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is looking for a good, cheap piano teacher who is good at ragtime. He can be reached at [email protected].


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